Kunsthalle / Our collection / restoration

Beckmann in vibration — modern art meets cutting-edge technology // A red laser pointer buzzes loudly as it feels its way from left to right, inching millimeter by millimeter across the canvas. It takes twenty-four hours for the vibration probes to examine Beckmann’s famous Fastnacht (160 × 100 cm). Over the next few weeks, the painting will be radically restored.
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In her preliminary assessment, conservator Katrin Radermacher noted insufficient stability and tension of the canvas across the frame, which could lead to damages in transit. New methods needed to be found to pinpoint weak points, even invisible ones, and repair them so that this major work in the Mannheim Collection can be moved into the new building. Conventional methods were deemed unsuitable. So a solution was invented at the Technische Universität Berlin, where Dr. Kerstin Kracht developed an examination method stemming from her doctoral thesis on machine dynamics, which had already been used successfully by Berlin’s Neues Museum to find the perfect plinth for their Nefertiti. Kunsthalle Mannheim gladly accepted the TU Berlin’s proposal to collaborate, with the TU also providing all the necessary measuring equipment, including the scientists. Beckman’s charming double portrait was set into motion in Mannheim—naturally in a harmless range of nanometers—using an electrodynamic agent called the Shaker. Micro-oscillations taken from almost 25,000 points were then logged electronically with an automated high-tech laser robot. The newly visible response of the painting to vibrations has given completely new insights into the restoration and preservation measures needed urgently. The Fastnacht will shine in full splendor at the opening of the new building, and what’s more, this precious work will be safeguarded for generations to come. 

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